Seniors Get Digital, Too

 In Blog, Connection

Baby boomers, traditionalists, the silent generation, hard workers, and family values, all words to describe a large sect of the American population. Previous generations of the United States have seen a lot in their day. They have weathered the greatest storms and some monumental triumphs of our country. They are the rock and roll generation and have ushered in changes to culture, movies, and music that will stand the test of time.

But, time doesn’t stop and years tick by. The heyday of the baby boomers and generations beyond is slowly coming to an end. Yes, the generation that once was the ones pioneering the change in society have aged gracefully, and are now the late majority of our day as opposed to being early adopters. But, age is just a number, right?

Have you ever seen a someone hesitate when holding a smartphone? Have a deer in th the headlights look when the topics of computers, apps, or social media come up? While there are some seniors who want nothing to do with technology and react just like that, not all of them are so opposed to the idea. Adopting new technology is a brave step for someone more mature in age. But, history shows us this generation has never shied away from a challenge.

Take a look at these two taking on their web camera. The power of problem solving and determination to be tech-savvy is shown at its best.

And research is proving that technology is isn’t just for millennials anymore.

Although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, this group is more digitally connected than ever. Seniors have iPads, iPhones, tablets, etc. and are grabbing family members, friends, and caregivers to teach them the ropes. According to The Pew Research Center, four-in-ten seniors now own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013. With smartphone ownership in the U.S. more than doubling in the past five years, Americans as a whole are embracing mobile technology at a rapid pace. And while adoption rates among seniors may trail those of the overall population, the share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013. Today, roughly half of older adults who own cellphones have some type of smartphone; in 2013, that share was just 23%. The trend doesn’t stop with people in their 50s and 60s, because 31% of people in their 70s. Some 31% say they own smartphones.

Tablets are also getting attention from this generation. Tablet ownership is especially common among seniors with more education and those living in higher-income households. Some 62% of older adults say they own tablet computers, while 56% of college-degree earners say the same. Each represents a more than 20-point increase since 2013 (at that point, 39% of high-income seniors and 31% of college graduates in this age group owned tablets).

Older adults may face unique barriers to adoption, ranging from physical challenges to a lack of comfort and familiarity with technology, but it hasn’t stopped them from diving in and welcoming new technology with growing confidence.

Will Older Generations Download Your App?

Yes! The research presented absolutely supports that the adoption of a smartphone app at your church will span all generations. As with anyone who you want to download your app, it’s about what features and conveniences your app will offer. People want an app to make their life better and to connect with to others and the church.

Online giving is a great convenience for everyone in the church today. In terms of numbers, the baby boomers may be the most generous of the generations in your church (they typically have more disposable income), so the ease and accessibility of online giving through an app is very appealing. Recent data shows that nearly 60% of adults 66 years and older gave a gift online in the past. And with their own user profile, they can see and track their giving history right at their fingertips. Provide the “Golden Oldies” in your congregation with an opportunity to give online, and you may be surprised by how many respond.

In general, people love to stay connected, but seniors especially crave the connection with their friends, church, and family, because they often may be alone or lacking their ability to drive and get out on their own. With features such as chat, push notifications, interactive calendars and registration, and groups at their fingertips, it’s clear that a smartphone app can offer seniors a digital world without having to leave their home.

Digital technology has transformed the way people do just about everything these days. And as more tasks migrate to going mobile, many seniors have a positive outlook about technology and the benefits it can provide. And once connected, many older adults engage deeply with online content and know embracing the technology revolution is another advancement in society they can accept with tenacity.